As I’m sure you know by now, week 2 of our twelve week journey, is when we finally begin our work for our respective businesses. This is something I have been looking forward to, as the months of anticipation and excitement will finally be over and I can get stuck in and make the impact I know I am capable of delivering. This is how the majority of you will feel, and what the majority will be able to experience instantaneously without an issue, however inevitably there will be an occasion in the programme your high expectations may not be met. Unluckily for me on this occasion, I was let down. Not due to negligence on anyone’s part, but in my case it was more of a ‘just one of those things’.
As my colleagues enjoyed a very exciting first week at work, myself and my counterpart Sam were first stood up on the day we were to begin work, something we both weren’t expecting and were left frustrated due to the preparation, importance and overall significance we had placed on this day. However the following day our business owner had agreed to meet with us. I was full of excitement to get started for J-Nissi Enterprise, a business which specialises in hand cut sugar coated ginger chips, and it had only been running for a year and has ‘space issues’ as the enterprise summary crudely put it. So after the 3 hour journey to our enterprise on the tro tro we were granted permission to visit the business, I was surprised by the scale of the operation, the business was a one man show in which a middle aged woman operates from home, in a tiny dark kitchen with tools more commonly seen in a garage. After being shown the premises we were able to sit down with the owner, and conduct our initial meeting. Her passion and vision for the product were clear, and it was really inspiring to hear her personal story in which she has overcome hardship to trying her hand at business in the form of J-Nissi Enterprise. I came out of the meeting pretty happy overall, the only concern to me at the time being how much she was on the phone and how busy she seemed, but I didn’t think too much of it and began pondering how we can help the business.
Despite the initial romance with the enterprise, it became apparent that perhaps the enterprise was not ready for our services at this moment. As occasion after occasion, the owner cancelled on us so much so that we were becoming unable to submit our deliverables because we simply did not know the answers. In this case we were more of a burden to the owner instead of an assistance. It began to become clear to Challenges Worldwide staff that we as volunteers, were having our time wasted and they acted swiftly to transfer us to another business, for which I am grateful. Despite how demoralising this was, we were well prepared for the realities of the programme and the training and guidance we were given really shone through in this situation.
So onwards and upwards onto Seladel Foods, a fish and poultry business who have been operating for 20 years. They operate in a factory, have their own office space, and supply one of the biggest supermarket chains in Africa- Shoprite. This was a huge contrast to our first business we were initially assigned, and began work right away in a lovely air conditioned office. Therefore despite the initial setback, I am sat here with confidence looking forward to the next 10 or so weeks we have left, and optimistic about what we can achieve at Seladel Foods. So in my case this cloud does in fact have a silver lining.